Square Enix can claim a few of the year's biggest success stories with games like Nier: Automata, Final Fantasy XV, and the continued success of Final Fantasy XIV. And while Square Enix has floated games as services as the future of the industry, bolstered by a successful series of mobile games, it appears the recent controversies around microtransactions have made an impact on the company.
In a recent interview with Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda for MCV, the Square Enix head shared some thoughts about microtransactions in the current game climate and how the practice might not suit console games.
“What people expect and want in a home console game is perhaps quite different from what people want in a mobile game,” said Matsuda. “The way that console games are made, the volume of content and how much effort goes into them, there's something in that which doesn't fit in the mind with microtransactions.”
The statement is rather interesting because earlier this year, Matsuda said that the focus in the industry is shifting towards games as services, a style of game where players would be continuously tied to a single game thanks to regular content releases. There appears to be an acknowledgement that microtransactions in full content, $60 games are incompatible.
However in the age of season passes, story expansions, and other forms of DLC, it's hard to take this as an outright indictment of microtransactions from the Square Enix CEO. What's clear is that Matsuda seems to argue that the tactics for microtransactions found in mobile games can't, or won't, work in console games. What that means in practice is still unclear.
EA kicked up a huge controversy regarding microtransactions with Star Wars Battlefront 2 this holiday season. The game offered players who wanted an “accelerated” experience an option to purchase game-improving upgrades. This generated anger among players who felt it to be unfair for players who have to otherwise play hours and hours of game content to receive the benefits of players who can buy their way to the top.
Now the industry is reeling from the controversy, with lawmakers calling for investigations into loot practices and EA considering abandoning loot boxes altogether.
Square Enix for its part found major success with the single-player Nier: Automata. There's a good chance that its success and the toxicity around microtransactions could convince Square Enix to stay clear from practices that could potentially anger players like loot boxes.